Unemployment rate steady at 9.7%

posted at 8:45 am on March 5, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Given the spin that the Obama administration applied to expectations this week on unemployment numbers, the reality looks rosy by comparison.  Larry Summers talked about the severe impact on employment from the mid-Atlantic snowstorms in February, but the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7%.  However, employment dropped by another 36,000:

In February, the number of unemployed persons, at 14.9 million, was essentially unchanged, and the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.0 percent), adult women (8.0 percent), whites (8.8 percent), blacks (15.8 percent), Hispanics (12.4 percent), and teenagers (25.0 percent) showed little to no change in February. The jobless rate for Asians was 8.4 percent, not seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was 6.1 million in February and has been about that level since December. About 4 in 10 unemployed persons have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. (See table A-12.)

In February, the civilian labor force participation rate (64.8 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.5 percent) were little changed. (See
table A-1.)

Did the weather contribute to the drop of 36,000 jobs, more than January’s 26,000-job loss (a revision downward from the originally-reported 20,000)?  Perhaps, but the BLS notes that construction losses (64,000) match the pattern of losses over the previous six months.  The information sector lost 18,000 jobs, almost certainly unlikely to have been weather-related.  Retail employment flattened out, negating one of the bright spots from January.

More worrisome is a 500,000 increase in workers forced into part-time work by economic conditions:

The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased from 8.3 to 8.8 million inFebruary, partially offsetting a large decrease in the prior month. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

And the number of marginally attached and discouraged workers continued to climb:

About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in February, an increase of 476,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in February, up by 473,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Once again, the topline unemployment rate is masking the fact that we’re still losing jobs.  Remember that population growth requires around 100K-125K new jobs opening every month just to maintain the status quo.  We’re still losing jobs, and we’re pushing more people out of the work force.


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As someone who has actually been involved with recruiting and interviewing, I can assure you that this is complete BS.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 11:39 AM

As someone who’s been looking for work and interviewing for some time, I can assure you that this is, in fact, the case.

There is absolutely no case to be made for continuing the H1B visa program. It needs to be canceled.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 11:48 AM

BREAKING: Buncha stuff happened a while ago.

Film at eleven. Or not.

hillbillyjim on March 5, 2010 at 11:49 AM

I hate to bitch and moan, this being free and whatnot, but HotAir is needed, and not weak-kneed watered-down HotAir, either.

We need the extra-caffeinated HotAir that we’ve come to love and expect. No, I don’t feel entitled, but I feel let down because I know y’all are better than this.

hillbillyjim on March 5, 2010 at 11:54 AM

I miss Hot Air dot com. Has anyone seen it lately? There might be a reward and stuff.

hillbillyjim on March 5, 2010 at 12:01 PM

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Perhaps where you are. But I’ve seen it first hand and quite frequently. I can name companies, some of which I’ve worked at and quite a few that wouldn’t hire me because I’m an American.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 12:07 PM

Have fun, y’all; I’m gonna go and get my redneck on.

Tootles, cheerio and all that rot.

hillbillyjim on March 5, 2010 at 12:08 PM

This is a fact. The very few interviews I’ve had, was to be the token American in H1B visa body shops.

If there were reporters interested in an actual news story, this would be a huge one. Record unemployment, and hi-tech companies are still bringing in foreign workers to work for chump change.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 11:21 AM

There are certainly many companies that do what you say. But H1B is capped at 65K a year. And that doesn’t just include high tech workers, even though everyone thinks H1B = software engineer. H1B is for any skilled worker in any field.

65K out of a workforce of 140 million. I’m not defending having even those 65K, but it’s not like every single person working in IT in America is an Indian on an H1B visa.

angryed on March 5, 2010 at 12:11 PM

So, yeah, H1B visa body shops are a big problem. The entire program should be canceled, there would be no problem filling all those jobs with Americans, which would already be the case if the companies in question actually adhered to the law.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 11:32 AM
As someone who has actually been involved with recruiting and interviewing, I can assure you that this is complete BS.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 11:39 AM

You have no idea how much I wish you were correct. I know as well as others here that the only one putting out bs on this subject is you. I have not figured out if you are just a wannabe with no direct knowledge or if you are just yanking our chains. Hopefully the latter.

If not you are certainly blind to the reality of the world American software engineers and others are dealing with today. Look in the papers. See how many high tech jobs are available. Not many. Recruters used to perster us all the time. Now not even a friendly contact from one. If your company really has 200 positions available tell us which company it is. I bet they will be flooded with resumes from Americans!!

kanda on March 5, 2010 at 12:12 PM

If not you are certainly blind to the reality of the world American software engineers and others are dealing with today. Look in the papers. See how many high tech jobs are available.

Please tell me you’re not really looking for a job in a newspaper….a high tech job at that.

angryed on March 5, 2010 at 12:15 PM

As someone who’s been looking for work and interviewing for some time, I can assure you that this is, in fact, the case.

There is absolutely no case to be made for continuing the H1B visa program. It needs to be canceled.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 11:48 AM

The fact that you can’t get work proves that the work is going to H1B candidates?

It’s easy to blame someone else for your own failures, but it is never right.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 12:17 PM

I can name companies, some of which I’ve worked at and quite a few that wouldn’t hire me because I’m an American.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 12:07 PM

They told you this directly?

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 12:18 PM

65K out of a workforce of 140 million. I’m not defending having even those 65K, but it’s not like every single person working in IT in America is an Indian on an H1B visa.

angryed on March 5, 2010 at 12:11 PM

65k per year for many years. Thats not 65k total. The high tech companies in New England are packed.

kanda on March 5, 2010 at 12:12 PM

No he isn’t. I’m saying it too and its the truth. I can back it up too.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 12:20 PM

kanda on March 5, 2010 at 12:12 PM

To me, their qualifications are much more important.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 12:20 PM

65k per year for many years. Thats not 65k total. The high tech companies in New England are packed.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 12:20 PM

H1B’s are not of unlimited duration.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 12:21 PM

I can back it up too.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Then please do so.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Shadow Government Statistics is a decent site if you are interested in what the actual unemployment and CPI rates are.

sharrukin on March 5, 2010 at 12:23 PM

65K a year. Each one is for up to 3 years with an extension for another 3. So 6 years max. Which means at most there are only 6* 65K H1Bs at any one time assuming all of them stay the full 6 years which is not likely.

And again, this is for all high skilled workers, not just IT. I know an accountant and a financial analyst that both worked on H1B visas.

And look at it this way, the choice isn’t really between hiring an American and an H1B from India. The choice is hiring the Indian and bringing him over on an H1B or hiring him and having him work from Banagalore. If anything, at least with H1B, the foreign worker spends most of the earned income in the US.

angryed on March 5, 2010 at 12:26 PM

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 12:18 PM

Yes, a couple of them actually told the agencies that sent me in.

Four places I went didn’t have ONE citizen in the software group and a couple H1 managers asked me how I felt about working with people from other countries and would the cultural differences be a problem?

I said “no problem!” and meant it. One place I worked at laid of teams of Americans and replaced them with H1′s. I got hit in that wave too.

Mark, I accept the fact that you haven’t seen it, but it really is an issue.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 12:30 PM

angryed on March 5, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Red, Your information is correct.

Mark, if you want to email me at DogSoldier75@gmail.com I’ll send you the names of companies. I don’t thing HA would appreciate me posting them here. But yeah, I can name names.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 12:34 PM

dogsolider, curious to know where are you located or where are the companies that you’ve experienced what you wrote about?

angryed on March 5, 2010 at 12:38 PM

angryed on March 5, 2010 at 12:38 PM

I’m logged into google talk now as DogSoldier75 or you can email me at the above address for more info, if that works.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 12:42 PM

So if 100 owners of Toyotas experience problems, the company is savaged by the state-run media…

And if Obama’s reckless looting of the treasury takes away 36,000 jobs, Obama is a genius?

These hard-core radicals in Obama’s sphere intend to crash this mother into the ground just like they did to flight 93.

As Rush would say, don’t doubt me.

jeff_from_mpls on March 5, 2010 at 1:01 PM

the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7%. However, employment dropped by another 36,000

An increase of around 150,000 is needed just to keep up with population growth. The BLS lives in an alternate universe.

KentAllard on March 5, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Yes, a couple of them actually told the agencies that sent me in.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Then why aren’t you suing?

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 1:44 PM

It costs a lot of money to get an H1B employee on staff. A company would have to save a lot of money per year on salary in order to recoup that in 6 years. Less if the employee doesn’t stay all 6 years.

As angryred mentioned, most of the time the choice is not between H1B and an American, it’s between an H1B and moving the whole division overseas.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 1:47 PM

It’s easy to blame someone else for your own failures, but it is never right.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 12:17 PM

So, I’m a bad programmer, and that’s why I can’t find a job?

Pretty bold words from someone who has zero knowledge of my experience and qualifications.

My experience in the last 15 years or so working as a programmer, directly contradicts your statements. There is no need for the H1B visa program. None. There are plenty of American programmers looking for work, who are being illegally being passed over for cheap imported labor.

In fact that’s what they are – illegal aliens. If the law was followed, and the company’s actually made the effort to fill the jobs with Americans as per the law, there would be no need for H1B now.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 2:11 PM

And again, this is for all high skilled workers, not just IT. I know an accountant and a financial analyst that both worked on H1B visas.

Which makes it even worse. You mean to tell me there aren’t plenty of accountants and financial analysts in this country to fill those jobs?

xblade on March 5, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Us American programmers need to UNIONIZE! It would solve ALL of our problems and protect our jobs!

/s

ornery_independent on March 5, 2010 at 2:39 PM

ornery_independent on March 5, 2010 at 2:39 PM

That’s just dumb.

If someone wants to immigrate to America legally, get a job, get on the path to citizenship – great!

But to import foreigners for the sole purpose of undercutting American jobs, while we’re at 20%+ real unemployment – is absurd.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 2:47 PM

My experience in the last 15 years or so working as a programmer, directly contradicts your statements.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 2:11 PM

My 25 years of experience in working in half a dozen high tech companies contradicts your claims that there is a problem.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 3:01 PM

My 25 years of experience in working in half a dozen high tech companies contradicts your claims that there is a problem.

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Then we’ll have to agree to disagree.

But even you must admit – the H1B visa program, in the face of massive American unemployment, has to end.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 3:05 PM

I’ve worked for a number of tech firms and the visa program is not a way to create slave labor. It is a way of getting staff with very specific skills. They are not paid less than their US counterparts when they work in the US (at least nt that I have seen). If anything, companies spend more in legal fees and relocation costs to bring over those skilled workers.

Most firms are moving that kind of work overseas if they can. That is a much more serious problem (every firm I’ve been with moves this work offshore when they can). US workers can’t compete and it has little to do with unions or taxes… the biggest costs are health care and the bottom line wages.

lexhamfox on March 5, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Then why aren’t you suing?

MarkTheGreat on March 5, 2010 at 1:44 PM

That’s a silly question. Now I know you’re not a professional and I have to question your claim to 25 years of experience. Just to clue you in, if you sue you don’t work. I’ve seen that a couple times too.

I didn’t sue when I was refused work because I’m a vet either. You never win, even if you win.

dogsoldier on March 5, 2010 at 4:53 PM

But even you must admit – the H1B visa program, in the face of massive American unemployment, has to end.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 3:05 PM

There is no shortage of programmers, so H1B is yet another example of bribed politicians. Companies get cheaper programmers and politicians get bigger campaign contributions.

MB4 on March 5, 2010 at 6:34 PM

I’ve worked for a number of tech firms and the visa program is not a way to create slave labor. It is a way of getting staff with very specific skills.

lexhamfox on March 5, 2010 at 3:28 PM

That is malarkey. It is a way to get cheaper labor. The “very specific skills” canard is just a circumvent. They are not just, or even mainly, bringing in people with any “very specific skills” that couldn’t be learned by many unemployed programmers in short order. The whole thing is a ruse and it’s an open “secret” and everyone knows it.

MB4 on March 5, 2010 at 6:49 PM

There is no shortage of programmers, so H1B is yet another example of bribed politicians. Companies get cheaper programmers and politicians get bigger campaign contributions.

MB4 on March 5, 2010 at 6:34 PM

That sums it up nicely.

Rebar on March 5, 2010 at 6:50 PM

MarkTheGreat, lexhamfox & angryed good solid points and you;ve barely touched on factors deeper and wider than the superficial appearance that it’s just a gateway for greedy companies to import cheap labor.

Unfortunately, hi-tech has been in a crunch ever since the dot.com bust. Sure there’s been solid recovery, but never again the hey-dey of the late 90s. That’s a fact and people have to adapt. That said, in an uncertain economic landscape where the pressures to offshore is greater than ever, the blame lies with the greedy and/or clueless politicans.

The bigger scandal of “importing” cheap labor is in the blue collar arena where businesses would rather hire illegals than pay an American worker at a higher rate. In terms of $$$, you can bet that more money is siphoned away from Americans than H1 visas ever have or ever will. This is why skilled labor back in the 80s/90s paid well, but declined overall since.

Dogsoldier, as a vet, have you checked out militaryhire.com or hireveterans.com? There’s always a need for programmers, provided expectations are realistic.

AH_C on March 5, 2010 at 11:37 PM

AH_C on March 5, 2010 at 11:37 PM

Thanks AH_C, I will check them out.

dogsoldier on March 6, 2010 at 10:56 AM

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